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Sunday, April 21. 2013
— The same day repeats itself, over and over again. He wakes up, and it's the exact same day. He, alone, is stuck inside of some kind of crazy time loop.
— At first he's in despair, then he realizes he can use it to his advantage to land the fair damsel.
— This he does, then everything goes back to normal and they live happily ever after.
Yep, the movie 12:01 sure is fun.
Ah, but I know what you're thinking. Just another pale imitation of the immortal Groundhog Day, right?
Except it came out a year before 'Groundhog Day'.
Oh, and there might have been a few other small differences. What was his ultimate goal in Groundhog Day?
To get into her pants.
What was his ultimate goal in 12:01?
To save her life and the world.
Did he actually care for the girl in Groundhog Day?
Not in the slightest.
He truly cared for her deeply and sincerely, if only from afar.
Of course, convincing someone you're actually stuck in a time loop — without them calling for Security or the medical staff — might not be quite as easy as it looks. Here are his first two attempts.
All in all, a warm, sensitive movie about a caring guy on a noble mission.
In other words, nothing at all like Groundhog Day.
We'll be Unstoppable below the fold.
Next on the list?
Imagine getting paid to drive a vehicle that steers itself!
Now that's livin'.
Starring the indefatigable Denzel Washington and up-and-coming star Chris Pine (of the great 'Star Trek' prequel), Unstoppable is fun from first minute to last. Good music score, good antagonistic dialogue between the Old Hand and the Rookie, a corporate bad guy you immediately hate, and a refreshingly down-to-earth problem — as referred to my review of 'The Avengers' the other day featuring armed vicious aliens pouring through an interdimensional hole in the sky.
Because the movie does raise one simple, pragmatic question:
How do you stop a runaway train?
In the last few seconds of that clip, Denzel figures out how.
And, good job by the state police, eh? The first cop tries to deny the Press access to a story, telling them to 'stay in the van for your own safety', failing to realize that safety isn't in their job description. Getting the story is.
And the accident? He only swerved into the horse trailer to avoid hitting the moron cop standing in the middle of the road! If I were the Pennsylvania State Police, I'd be thinkin' lawsuit for 'defamation of character'.
If the lady looked familiar, that's Rosario Dawson, the cutie in Men In Black II.
Doc gives both movies seven up-twinkles, or "3½ stars" by the old rating system.
Posted by Dr. Mercury in The Culture, "Culture," Pop Culture and Recreation at 10:00 | Comments (19) | Trackbacks (0)
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Little did I know when I turned on my computer this morning that I'd be in tears a half-hour later.
That Wenzhou video was just heart-wrenching. What a fine piece and what a fine post leading into it. I actually thought it was going to be a "disaster vid", as the title stated, but couldn't figure out why you used the word "beautiful".
I sure do now.
Glad you enjoyed, dear Kath. I've watched it three times this morning. I watch it once, it somehow just stays with me, then I go back for another. I love how touching the song is, even without understanding a single word.
Doc - I agree with Katharine, the Wenzhou post stood alone.
The other two are now in the queue. I'd never heard of "12:01" before, turns out it's a Fox Entertainment made-for-TV flick. I really like Jonathan Silverman, have seen him in a couple of things. He was in one of the baseball movies you highlighted a while back, "Little Big League".
If the clip you posted is any indication, 12:01 isn't in the same league as Groundhog Day, which is much more clever in selecting, dramatizing and staging the repeated events.
I'll give you that Groundhog Day didn't do a particularly good job of dramatizing how/why Phil comes to fall in love with Rita. OTOH, he has been in this time warp for centuries and stuck in a small town...
You're completely correct, Judith. Based on that criteria, it's definitely not in the same league. He didn't take piano lessons or ice sculpting lessons or French poetry lessons or any of that. All he did in the four or five days it took was try to save her life.
No, not the same league at all.
"why Phil comes to fall in love with Rita."
What a cute word for it. :)
Interesting wikipedia entry on possible links between Groundhog Day & 12:01, however:
Really a shame if it's true they stole the concept. Now, I've gotta read the short story and see if I can find the original Academy Award winning short film.
The first time I saw "Groundhog Day", I was as bedazzled as the next person, just 'cause it was so cute and fresh and original and Murray did such a great job.
The second time, I had the same thought as you, Doc. The piano lessons, the ice sculpting lessons, the French, the whole deal, was all in an effort to get into her pants before midnight. Y'all stay classy, now, Hollywood. "12:01" obviously looks like it's on the opposite end of the scale and much thanks for the review.
I saw "Unstoppable" in a for-real movie theater that had a super-awesome sound system that amplified the lower harmonic vibrations a train gives off. I wouldn't call it a "bone-shattering experience", but it was certainly heading that direction. The whole friggin' place was shaking on its foundation. Fun movie, too.
okay, but according to the movie, when he's just trying to "get into her pants," he's unsuccessful - she sees through him - and stays stuck in the time loop. It's only after he gets genuinely benevolent to others that he wins the girl and re-enters time. You might not be buying, but that was what they were attempting to sell.
I'll accept your point, but the problem is that it's a Hollywood fantasy ending, completely devoid of reality. People like the self-centered jerk Murray played don't magically become wonderful, caring, benevolent people with the wave of a wand. Best guess is that their relationship lasted until they got back to the station, then both became the exact person they were before.
Do I sound cynical, or what? :)
A story about a guy caught in a time warp is, by definition, fantasy.
The point is, he didn't "magically become wonderful, caring..." etc., He got slapped multiple times, was trying to kill himself he was so miserable...I think the movie successfully dramatized what such change would look like.
The possibility, of course, is that such change never occurs and God knows, it's hard for all of us to make small changes, never mind complete character re-makes. So, perhaps you're rejecting the very possibility. But, I don't think the movie was doing "magic," it was showing a guy repeatedly doing the wrong thing and staying stuck until he finally gets it right. Psychologically, that's actually not fantasy at all.
BTW, thanks for the link. I've now spent an hour (got to change my Internet addiction!) - looking up the 12:01/Groundhog Day links. I'm going to feel really bad if they did steal it, but I don't suppose there will ever be proof of that.
I found the short film version on Youtube, if anyone's interested:
I think the ultimate point is that he took all those lessons and such to do the aforementioned panty-dipping. What followed at the very end was somewhat secondary. And, I forget, but did he do the usual piano-playing, ice-sculpting, life-saving, tire-changing, French-spouting routine the day he finally bagged her?
And I don't think "stealing" is the word. Very little in Hollywood is actually original, and "time-loop movies" aren't that uncommon. That thing you linked to is called "12:01 PM" and is a third entry into the field.
When it comes to 'time-loop' movies, Nicolas Cage did a really cool flick called 'Next' that took a fresh look at the subject. Definitely worth the rental.
"I think the ultimate point is that he took all those lessons and such to do the aforementioned panty-dipping. What followed at the very end was somewhat secondary."
Wait - earlier you said you had accepted the point that he's not successful when he's just trying to get into her pants and is only successful when he reforms. So, you're unaccepting it?
Because, to reiterate, that's what happens in the movie. She rejects him when his pursuit is simply lust. He has to become a better person.
"And, I forget, but did he do the usual piano-playing, ice-sculpting, life-saving, tire-changing, French-spouting routine the day he finally bagged her?"
Yes, except the life-saving, tire-changing, etc., starts AFTER Rita has rejected his phony pursuit. Before that, he was plotting armored truck robberies, ignoring the homeless guy, knowing all the answers on the same Jeopardy episode, etc. He becomes a better person and then begins to actually care for and win Rita. Believe it or don't, but you might try to track what actually happens in the movie.
I understand everything you're saying. My point was that he spent 95% of the movie being crass and a lecher. The fact that he spent the last 5% of the movie being a wonderful guy doesn't alter the fact that 100% of '12:01' was spent trying to save her life, and, as a small by-product, the world.
And, just curious, but what do you think of a girl who goes to bed on her first date? Sounds kinda cheap to me, no matter how dazzling the piano playing. What lesson is Hollywood teaching the impressionable teenage girls in the audience?
What are you basing the 95% on? It's not 95%, it's Act III of the movie. When the change happens the movie is over, otherwise it would be boring, watch nice guy get nicer & nicer. Also, you'd accuse it of being unrealistic because it glossed over how bad he was. He's bad, self-serving, then he's depressed, suicidal, then he learns how to care for something outside himself.
As to the sleeping with - there's some debate as to whether sex happened. In a previous day he had clearly read her to sleep - then he wakes up alone again. On this day, she's there, clothed, and he is too.
I can hear your snort at the unreality of that.
No, I wouldn't condone her sleeping with him on the first date and where it gets muddled is that, as movie viewers, we've seen what she hasn't - seen them get to know each other over and over - so it doesn't feel "first date-y" to us, even though, objectively we have to understand that's how she would be experiencing it.
So, yes, there's potentially some moral problem. As H'wood movies go in the depiction of relationships, though, I would say that one where the basic message is, 'you have to become a worthwhile specimen to deserve a wonderful girl' is way ahead.
"What are you basing the 95% on?"
Movie time. I embellish for effect, of course. It was probably closer to 90%. For 90% of the movie he was basically nothing more than a womanizer. Then, through the magical healing power of Unrequited Love, he wins her heart.
That's nice, as far as it goes, but it doesn't erase the first 90% of the movie.
And the fact that we're discussing it at all only confirms my point of how opposite these movies are.
IMDB trivia page for Groundhog Day lists some other possible precursors:
Nietzsche - The Gay Science
P.D. Ouspensky - The Strange Life of Ivan Osokin
William Dean Howells - Christmas Every Day
So, maybe Nietzsche is the true fountainhead here (the oldest of those credited with a similar idea) and/or, once the idea is out there, it's just out there and different writers have their own takes on it.
That's an interesting list. I figured there had to be a few others out there. As far as this goes, though:
"A story about a guy caught in a time warp is, by definition, fantasy."
You'd have to see the movie. The time loop is based on a science project (particle accelerator) run amok, whereas in Groundhog Day it just kind of magically happened.
I would note, though, that that's one of my favorite genres of movie, where just one little magical thing happens, but everything else is played straight up. "L.A. Story" is another of this fairly rare breed.
QUIBBLE ALERT: You may regret reading this if you really liked Unstoppable.
I've seen Unstoppable once, and I wasn't paying close attention but I think a key element involves a burst hose leading to a loss of air pressure, which disables the brakes.
The problem is that air pressure is required to release the brakes on trains. The brakes are on by default and are disengaged only when air pressure is applied. In other words, if air pressure is lost, the train will stop.
This was a major safety advance when it was introduced, and no doubt prevents many runaway trains if mechanical failure occurs. Before air brakes, the conductor would have to tighten the big hand wheel on the caboose and each car which was a slow and dangerous process.
You are one hundred billion percent correct. But, that's Hollywood for ya. In the movie, they were simply left unconnected at the yard. Another anomaly is that the train just kind of mysteriously slipped into gear. But, that's Hollywood for ya. I'd also guess that derailers work 100% of the time and that ex-Marines don't actually need the train slowed down so much to clamber aboard -- but that's Hollywoo-
I'm starting to sound repetitive!